Halloween Op-ed: AI dawn lights human companionship choices

The experience of memory, of thinking back to a time where you did something each day that you no longer do regularly now, or at all, is an odd reflection.

For me, each day I create copy on a computer to be read on a screen of somebody else’s choosing, leaves the times when I’d first create copy on manual, and in years thereafter, electric typewriters, an increasingly distant memory.

People who used typewriters to write stories were preparing them of course for print media—newspapers, magazines, books, tabloid journals—and could not or did not imagine a time when computer keyboards would usurp their trusty typewriters and print in favor of digital formats.

I believe history may look back on the time of the transition from typewriters and newspapers to computers and Facebook, as the dawn of the decline of human connection and the birth of something as good or better.

While still in its infancy, AI (artificial intelligence) and AR (augmented reality) can be viewed as tacking on to how we humans are already in the process of disconnecting from one another and moving on to an alternate means of connection.

As I believe this to be occurring, I also feel as humans we REQUIRE human connection or at least facsimiles thereof, in order to live and thrive.

Loneliness is combatted daily.

But what if robotics advanced enough over the next few decades that we’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between humans and robots when it came to relationships and the feeling of being connected to someone, somebody and an inner circle of friends?

While it may appear unsettling or unnerving to some, the ability of AI to provide android replicas will not be something that is relegated to Halloween and horror movies.

I do hear the naysayers who would suggest that AI will never be fully capable of providing the sensation of touch or interaction that actual humans can.

I also remember thinking that I’d be using a typewriter indefinitely, too.

From observing how social media has impacted our lives, I would say that on the positive side, the likes of Facebook, Instagram et al are proof positive of humans’ capacity to share and their NEED to share.

It’s just that humans do not share as much in person anymore like they used to; video clips, pics and accompanying audio serve as our methods of interaction and sharing. The digital age has packed so much into our daily schedules that our ability (and time) to get together in person to share, has been severely compromised.

It also is ACCEPTED that we are sharing more digitally than in person. And therein lies both a problem as well as a solution in the form of AI, robotics and the use of Androids as substitute humans for all the things we used to do.

For those who are lonely and lack the ability to be intimate, what if they had a beautiful human replica android that could act as surrogate companion for all the things we don’t do in person anymore like sharing?

What if each of us could never be lonely again?

Imagine the not-so-scary possibilities that could prompt the death of Facebook status updates in favor of a conversation about your day between you and someone who is keenly interested in you?

Perhaps if we’re more objective, open-minded to what notions of intimacy and feeling connected are like moving forward, fears of a freak-show rise of the machines can give way to a future each of us can anticipate longingly.


Categories: Opinion

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